February Reads

Month Count: 5 texts, 1 audiobook, 6 total
Year to Date: 12 texts, 2 audiobooks, 14 total

I just have to put a little disclaimer on my featured picture for this month’s reading recap… Our two-year-old daughter has this thing, when we’re in the car and the sun is in her eyes she goes “SUN SO BRIIIIIIGHT!!!” and squints really hard. Well, I was sending a funny picture to my husband of me doing that on a beautiful **FINALLY** sunny day this month and that’s the only picture I had for my feature. So, I hope you enjoy and think of me or Clara the next time the sun is in your eyes: “sun so briiiiiiight!”

Goodreads profile HERE!

Bookstagram profile HERE!

Find Me by Annie Frasier has been on my Kindle for a while. I think it was an Amazon sale item or deal that sounded interesting and was a great price so I snagged it. I loved it, really… It fit my murderino interests in true crime, though it’s not a true story at all. “A bone-chilling family history unearthed” (as taken from the synopsis on Amazon) really hits the best description from the get go. Reni is a former FBI profiler who left the force after going through a bit of a mental breakdown. As a child, she was used as bait by her father to lure his female victims to their death. In his sick, and twisted way of manipulating her, he called it their special game. She never knew the true outcome of the game, until she did and it all came unraveled. He was her motivation for pursuing a career, and in her premature retirement, she continued to seek answers for herself and the victim’s families.

What I loved about this book is it kept me entertained and it was clever (and horrifying), but I also kept guessing where it was going to go with Reni. Like, how much was she going to figure out. How many more secrets were going to come out. I even wondered if she was blocking out more memories, or faking the blackouts and was actually in on it. (You’ll have to read to find out!)

Inland Empire book number two comes out this summer and I can’t wait for the follow up to this.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was a sweet Goodwill find! I’ve seen such great reviews for so long that I was stoked to come across this for less than a couple of bucks, and it did not disappoint. Family sagas are usually not totally my go-to, but I’ve read a couple of them now and this sits at the top for sure.

It follows one family from Hoonie, a struggling, crippled Korean man in the early 1900’s, throughout his wife (Yangjin) and daughter’s (Sunja’s) lives and eventual relocation to Japan. It further chronicles Sunja’s sons Noa and Mozasu. For the most part, there aren’t a ton of characters to keep track of and though it spans about 80 years from Hoonie to his grand- and great-grand-children, it does so in such a simple and elegant manner. I didn’t know about the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 1900’s, and I wasn’t aware of the severe racism against Korean people living in Japan either.

I found one review that puts it perfectly: There’s not a lot of fluff. Therefore, the book reads quickly, despite being +500 page family saga about sexism, fate, hard work, destiny, chance, war, poverty, racism, familial obligations, identity, immigration, citizenship, language, education, opportunity, community, and faith. I felt so connected to this family. I felt invested in their journey. It was so beautiful and tragic, I wanted more.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes was gifted to me by April, and it was such a cute story! Fun to finish right on Valentine’s Day, too. It’s really just a (mostly) light hearted, quick read with a touch of rom-com movie vibes. I loved the Minnesota tie-in with Evvie, real name Eveleth – a tiny town not too far from my hometown Duluth. I am also a huge baseball fan, so I felt connected to Dean and was really rooting for him. It’s just an effortlessly cute read – a good break from some of the heavy stuff I’ve been toying with. Read this for a good distraction.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was picked up on Kindle through an Amazon deal almost a year ago! I’m not sure what made me pick it up… it could have been that I’m whittling down my unread books on Kindle so when I filter out what’s left, it was staring me in the face.

Well, it gobbled up my attention so fast, I wasn’t expecting to be consumed with it! It’s mostly divided into three sections. Mariam. Laila. And then Mariam and Laila together.

Mariam’s journey begins with her childhood. It’s complicated, as she’s the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man in Afghanistan. When her mother dies by suicide, her father sends her off to Kabul to marry Rasheed… a 40-year old widower. She’s 15, so trigger warning there! Though she was raised fairly liberally by her mother, all that goes out the window with Rasheed, who observes a much more orthodox version of their culture. He forces her into submission, requires her to wear a burqa and severely restricts her freedom and speech. He’s beyond abusive on top of that.

Laila’s parents are killed by stray bombs when she is 14, and Rasheed – now 60 years old!!! – courts her as his second wife. As you would expect in a patriarchal culture, Mariam has objections but they mean nothing. Rasheed oppresses Laila, as he did Mariam, and we get a clearer picture of his abusive habits that Mariam has had to endure for decades. I loved their eventual comradery, but this book is heartbreaking and breathtaking at the same time. I think it’s a must read, and I was fascinated at the Afghani perspective of existing through Taliban rule and observing the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid came recommended on Audible by a few friends. They all said the Audible version is stunning, like listening to a live performance and I totally agree. I actually had to look up if Daisy Jones and the Six was a real band and real people! I love oldies – that 70’s era music is my favorite. The Doors and Jim Morrison is my favorite band. I grew up with The Beatles, Elton John, Roy Orbison, the Mamas and the Papas and more…It was a like a backstage telling of that book but narrated… no, performed so well.

That being said – as much as I really liked the performance and the story – it really wasn’t unique. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The three main women throughout the novel representing different facets of feminism throughout the 70’s. The struggle with addiction, but the enabling that society and specifically these lifestyles created around addiction. It was just an entertaining retelling of cliche lives of a rock band, if that rock band would have existed. That’s not bad, it’s just also not surprising.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates has been on my TBR since last summer. It was on sale at Target and I joined an IG book club who all agreed to read it together! That’s a first… It was fun, a little anticlimactic. I thought we would have a Zoom call and discussion, it just ended up being a few people posting in a group chat on IG. I still made a few conncetions, and it inspired me to power through the last third of the book, where I may have slacked since this was a challenging read.

Amazon synopsis: Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

I don’t know that I have much more to add to my review than what I posted on IG. For me, it is written in a complex voice, which made it a little more of a slow read than what I’ve had lately. It is very poetic and lovely. I don’t mind the voice which it’s written. It definitely toes the lines of reality and fantasy, but I do not really know if that worked for me… ??? Some parts were brilliantly lyrical, other parts felt clunky and redundant. I was inspired and transported, and then confused. I felt connect to Hiram, but also wished there was more character development to maintain and strengthen that connection. I wanted more out of Moses – oh my gosh, Moses was my rally cry. Ultimately, some parts were a five star book, and some were closer to a three star.

What were your faves this month? I can tell you, I’ve already whizzed through two books for March, and (if you’ve seen my IG post today then you already knew this) I joined the Henderson County Public Library and checked out my first three books! Eeekkk!

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